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Inspiration for a genius: recent discovery of a book that Shakespeare may have used for his writing

Because Leonardo da Vinci kept a vast quantity of journals, we have a good idea about how his mind worked, what he was thinking about, and what he saw. With William Shakespeare, we have no such record. And William Shakespear is the reason we have the English language as it is today.

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Happy birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

Happy birthday, Mr. Lincoln

I tried to construct a portrait that was fairly close to realistic and without too much distortion for my birthday tribute to Mr. Lincoln. But the body, of course, is very much in the caricature mode.

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Leonardo's drawings of cats

Leonardo’s journals: A large window into the mind of a genius

The mind of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) still fascinates observers even after 500 years. He was interested in so many things, and he observed the world with the mind and attitude of a scientist, mechanic, inventor, naturalist, and philosopher. He was also a writer. And an artist, of course. We know about Leonardo’s mind because […]

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Eugene Francois Vidocq

The ‘private eye’ in literature begins with the real-life character of Eugene Francois Vidocq

The place to look for the origins of the literary private eye is in 19th century France with the character of Eugene Francois Vidocq.

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Civil War Trust provides excellent video introduction to Gettysburg

Gettysburg is so iconic — particularly because of the Gettysburg Address that Abraham Lincoln delivered four months after the battle — that we tend to lose sight of what it meant to the people who lived during the war.

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Images of Abraham Lincoln

What did Lincoln look like?

The 19th century was just as image conscious as our age, and one of the masters of image was Abraham Lincoln. The sidebar on page 389 of Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How tells about a famous photo of Lincoln that was used in the election campaign of 1860.

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The Silent Sentinels outside the White House, 1917

In which I answer the question, “What’s next?”, part 2: the suffrage ladies and me

The suffrage ladies may not be done with me. Those were the women who, between 1910 and 1920, affected the most profound change in the make-up of the electorate in the history of the Republic. In 2013, Seeing Suffrage was published by the University of Tennessee Press. The book was about the 1913 Washington suffrage […]

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Jane Burleson, grand marshal of the 1913  Washington Suffrage Parade, halts at the beginning of the parade to see that the participants are following her.

Seeing Suffrage: Starting the 1913 Washington Suffrage Parade

Sometime around 3:20 p.m. on March 3, 1913, Jane Burleson gave the signal, and the 1913 Washington Suffrage Parade commenced on Pennsylvania Avenue. A short time after that, the arc of the suffrage movement changed markedly.

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Dwight Teeter

The First Amendment today

The nation seems to be in a state of perpetual war, and during times of crisis, individual freedoms are always in danger. Professor Dwight Teeter of the University of Tennessee discusses the state and strength of First Amendment freedoms today.

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Front cover of Battlelines: Gettysburg

Battlelines: Gettysburg displays never-before-published work of Civil War sketch artists

Many rare and never-before-published drawings of Civil War sketch artists are now available in Battlelines: Gettysburg, newly released by First Inning Press.

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Jonathan Swift, writer ‘to the vulgar’

Jonathan Swift wanted his writing to be “understood by the meanest.” It’s the standard we want our journalism students to shoot for.

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How we got the First Amendment (video)

In this two-and-a-half minute video, Dr. Dwight Teeter explains some of the political maneuvering that occurred to get the an amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech into the hotly-debated Constitution in the late 1780s. The freedoms protected by the amendment — religion, speech, press, assembly and petition — were not foremost in the minds of the […]

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FDR, the editor: A date which will live in infamy

The nation had just endured a bitter debate about whether or not it should go to war. The Japanese ended the debate on Dec. 7, 1941, but the attack on Pearl Harbor had not cleared away the bitterness. Franklin Roosevelt had to weigh his words carefully.

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Three Dead Americans: Life’s famous World War II photo

Americans waited nearly two years before the news media printed a combat photograph that showed a dead U.S. serviceman. The reasons for that wait were that such producing such photos are too shocking for the friends and families of the deceased and that the public’s morale and support for the war might be diminished. The […]

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Bay Psalm Book

Bay Psalm Book: the little book that keeps getting more valuable

The book represents in a small way a declaration of religious independence from the Church of England that could be exercised by early residents of Massachusetts.

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JFK assassination: TV news grows up in a hurry

To those who lived through it (including me), nothing is comparable to those four days in 1963 beginning on Nov. 22 when we heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. Televisions all over America went on and stayed on through Monday night. We had never seen anything like it […]

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John F. Kennedy on the importance of open government (audio)

In April 1961, a few months after taking office as president of the United States, John F. Kennedy spoke to the American Newspaper Publishers Association about the importance of maintaining an open government. In the speech he said, “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a […]

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Following ‘th’ iliction returns’

More than 100 years ago, newspaper humorist Finley Peter Dunne, speaking through his wise-beyond-years character Mr. Dooley, ended a soliloquy about the Supreme Court by saying: “That is, no matther whether th’ constitution follows th’ flag or not, th’ supreme coort follows th’ iliction returns.”

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George Smalley and the Battle of Antietam

One of the most dramatic stories of a correspondent covering a battle in the Civil War is that of George Smalley of the New York Tribune and his adventure in getting his description of the battle of Antietam back to New York. Smalley’s first accounts of the 1862 battle were read by President Abraham Lincoln […]

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Battlefield coverage: Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!

Rable notes how difficult it was to cover such an encounter between armies and how hard it was to get information from the field to the publication for which the reporter worked. One other difficulty that reporters had: figuring out who won. It was not always apparent.

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